STD Testing Specialist
STDs can be easily spread from one person to another, especially in their early stages when symptoms may not be present. Regular STD testing at Northwest Women’s Center in Houston, TX, helps ensure diseases are caught early so women can enjoy better health and prevent continued transmission of infection.
STD Testing Q & A
What happens during STD testing?
STD testing can be performed using different techniques depending on the symptoms. If a routine exam reveals sores or other abnormal areas or a Pap test or HPV test yields abnormal results, testing may be performed using a minimally-invasive exam called a colposcopy that uses a magnifying scope to identify areas of abnormal tissue inside the vaginal canal and on the cervix. These areas can be sampled or biopsied and examined more closely under a microscope to determine if an infection is present. Other times, blood tests or urinalysis may be ordered to test for the presence of specific germs in the blood or urine. At Northwest Women’s Center, we use state-of-the-art testing technology and processes for fast, accurate and confidential results.
How can I tell if I need to be tested for a sexually transmitted disease?
Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health recommend all sexually-active people have STD testing performed annually, and every three to six months for those who engage in risky sexual activity. STDs can be difficult to detect, especially in their early stages when they may cause few or no noticeable symptoms. That means not only can an infection progress to a more serious stage that may be more difficult to treat, but it’s also easy to spread disease unknowingly to another person. Being tested for STDs on a regular basis is important for the patient’s own health as well as for the health of the patient’s partners.
How are STDs treated?
Most STDs can be treated and eradicated using medications. The type of medication and the duration of treatment will depend on the type of infection that’s present, how far the disease has progressed and other factors like the patient’s own health. Some STDs like herpes and HIV cannot be cured, but they can be managed with ongoing treatment.
How soon after having sex can I be tested for an STD?
Usually, it takes a few weeks for the germs to reach a level where they can be accurately assessed using blood tests or other testing. Patients who have engaged in risky sex or who simply want to be tested should call the office to inquire about optimal scheduling.
Should I still get tested for STDs even though I don’t have any symptoms?
Most people with STDs don’t show any symptoms, so the only way to know if you or your partner has an STD is to get tested. It’s especially important to get tested in you’ve had unprotected sex, or if you find out your partner has an STD. What’s the big deal? If you do have an STD, you want to know as soon as possible, as STDs can cause serious damage over time. Plus, you can spread them unknowingly to other people you have sex with.
Besides, after you get tested at Northwest Women’s Center, you can put your mind at ease. Regular STD testing is just a part of being a responsible person and taking care of yourself...and your partner.
How long does it take to get my results from my STD testing?
Most results are available in 1-2 business days. A few tests may take an additional day or so.
What’s the difference between an STD and an STI?
Sexually transmitted disease (STD) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) are often used interchangeably, but they are different. If you have an STI, you have an infection that hasn’t yet developed into a disease. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a prime example. Many people have HPV but no symptoms. Still, they carry the virus and have an STI. If a woman, for instance, develops cervical cancer from HPV, she now has an STD since cancer is a disease.
If you want to get technical, all STDs start as STIs.
How are STDs transmitted?
Since the name is “sexually” transmitted disease, you’d think that is the only way to catch a STD. Not true. Yes, sexual intercourse is a common way to contract an STD, but here are some other ways:
- Kissing – Kissing trades saliva between kisser and kissee. Mono is one that comes to mind, but herpes also transmits this way through cold sores.
- Oral sex – Many people don’t consider this “real” sex, but oral sex can transmit diseases if the penis, vagina, or anus involved are infected. Genital herpes, chlamydia, and HPV can all spread orally.
- Contaminated food – Hepatitis A can spread from food prep being done by a person who didn’t wash his or her hands after using the restroom.
- Skin-to-skin contact – Herpes and HPV can spread through skin contact between people. This is especially true if there is a nick from shaving or the like.
- Tanning bed – Molluscum contagiosum, a bumpy genital infection, can spread by skin-to-skin contact or from shared contaminated surfaces such as your friendly neighborhood tanning bed.
There are other ways to spread STDs, as well. Just know it’s way more than simply intercourse.
Can you get the same STD again?
Yes, just because you had one once and treated it doesn’t mean you can’t get it again. You don’t build up immunity to stuff like chlamydia.
Can I get more than one STD at once?
Yes indeed. Some STDs actually make you more susceptible to contracting other STDs. That’s why you need to get tested for all STDs, not just one or two.
Do condoms prevent STD transmission?
While condoms do increase your odds of not getting an STD, they are not 100 percent effective in preventing all of them. STDs such as HPV, genital herpes, syphilis, and crabs can all spread even with a condom.